Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dreams Really Do Come True

Recently a French couple, Nadège and Frédéric, married in Prince Albert. This is their story in their own words.

On the 5th of May 2007, when Frederic proposed to Nadège, we asked ourselves where we should get married. The answer came quite rapidly! One of Frédéric’s dreams was to get married in the desert, in an old American car, and Nadège loved the idea of the red soil. A quick look on Google Earth and in August 2007 we were on the road to Prince Albert. This was the first of a series of weekends we were to spend driving the South African immensity in search of the place which would talk to us.

After driving for four and a half hours, we entered Prince Albert at lunch time and the dream started…A quick look on the left and Nadège said ‘Let’s go there for lunch!’ when she saw Café Albert, a quick look on the right and we could not believe our eyes: right there, a Blue Cadillac was parked, as if it had been waiting for us! This would be the first sign that Prince Albert was the right place for us!

We decided to drop our luggage at Dennehof where we had booked a room, only to realise that by pure chance it was the “Honeymoon Suite”. By the end of the weekend we loved it so much that we decided that this would one day be our real honeymoon suite. We returned to Café Albert where we had lunch and met the owners, Romy and William, who immediately grabbed a pen and a piece of paper when we mentioned our decision to get married in Prince Albert. Romy started listing the potential wedding venues and suppliers of various services, so much that indeed, without knowing it, when the dessert came, our wedding had started taking shape.

Romy was the first to suggest that we get married at Abrahamskraal. Half an hour later Hestie Fourie from Abrahamskraal was sitting at our table and by the end of the afternoon we went to the farm with Hestie and her husband, Johan. We immediately fell in love with the place; nothing around, just a farm and yes – a windmill! The plan was already unfolding: The reception would be at the farm and the aperitif at the windmill!

The following day we left the village with big smiles on our faces and returned to Cape Town over the Swartberg Pass. We could not believe how beautiful it was and on top of it all, it started snowing heavily! After seven years of living in Cape Town, we managed to touch and taste snow again for the first time! Naturally we kept this Pass in mind for the ceremony.

At the end of October 2007, we decided to come back to start organising the wedding. That’s when we met Lisa from Onse Rus who was so inspiring! She suggested that the ceremony be held on the dance floor in the Swartberg Pass and gave us Johanna Luttig’s details, as a potential supplier of rustic decorations. We also explained to Lisa that we wanted to have a very spiritual ceremony and she jumped out of her chair to fetch a wedding magazine in which she had just read an article about Celtic weddings. We read it and got so excited because it was completely in line with what we were looking for!

Voila! The venue was set. In the year that followed we had a succession of weekend meetings with amazing people at Die Kuierhuis in Prince Albert. Everyone here is so special, so loving and helpful, so enjoying of life’s every moment. One day we met Ailsa, the Ghost Story Teller, at the Lazy Lizard, who put us in contact with Bob Commin, a priest from Cape Town who was experienced in Celtic weddings and who would end up officiating an unforgettable ceremony with talent and emotion.

Johanna Luttig and her daughters from Drie Riviere designed and made lots of stunning rustic decorations for the tables and outside the tent. They also baked and designed a great wedding cake that was to be eaten under a Bedouin tent at the windmill on the farm, during the aperitif sundowners. Eventually, they also ended up receiving a bus full of French family members from South Western France and Normandy at their farm on the Friday evening preceding the wedding. The French crew of 50, plus lots of friends from Cape Town, enjoyed a typical South African spitbraai, and a rugby kicking competition was quickly organised between the French and the Boks. We say that the French won!

Jason Lucas provided his Blue Cadillac and Gawie Breytenbach his beige Chevrolet, which added a romantic tone to this already very unusual wedding. The dress code was free, but colors had to be burnt orange, chocolate, rust, copper, as were all the decorations under and outside the beige Bedouin tent set next to the farm house at Abrahamskraal, where the desert, lit only by candles, was an inspiration.

Anobe Badenhorst at the Swartberg Hotel organised a delightful brunch the day after the wedding and accommodated lots of our guests from France, indeed all of Frédéric’s family. There were lots of French people in the little town that weekend! And we were all so happy to be there. They fell in love with Prince Albert! The Prince Albert Country Store played a central role in this wedding: Colleen and William (whose son, we later discovered, actually lives next door to our flat in Cape Town!) helped us with a ‘love box’ that Frédéric chose and painted for Nadège as a very personal gift, and Colleen designed a beautiful bridal bouquet.

Hestie had recommended Jakoba Visagie, who manages the school choir and who taught her talented singers a few of the gospel songs that we had selected. This brought a higher level of emotion to the ceremony in the Pass, and we saw lots of emotional tears in the eyes of the French and South African guests, when they arrived at the Dance Floor and the choir started singing, surrounded by sky, river, and mountains.

Ria Steyn from Dennehof assisted the bride and her bridesmaids to have special make-up and hair style sessions on the morning of the wedding; Louis van Brakel at Die Kuierhuis accommodated them during their last weekend and the week before the wedding; and Kevin Hough from the Gallery exhibited some of his unbelievable pieces of art in the Karoo desert at Abrahamskraal, which gave a surrealist dimension to this already unbelievable wedding.

Our biggest thanks, must go to Hestie and Johan, an amazing couple who worked during long months to help with planning and then who hardly slept during the wedding weekend. For more than a year of preparation, Hestie and Johan surrounded us with their advice, love and affection and after all this time working together for our D-day, we ended up having not only a wedding that exceeded our biggest dreams, but also very importantly, having two new very special friends. We live in Cape Town and have chosen South Africa to live, work and raise our children, and one thing is sure, we will be regulars of Prince Albert in the years to come. We will actually spend Christmas there!

On the 25th of October 2008, the Frenchies got married in Prince Albert, and everything happened according to plan, thanks to all the wonderful people of Prince Albert, their love, their talent, their kindness and enthusiasm!

Prince Albert is forever in our hearts and the village and its people have made such an incredible impact on us and on our guests that we have decided to spend three months in our peaceful heaven when Nadège will be pregnant with our first child!

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